Picture: @vwsfires/Twitter
Cape Town - A near code red emergency was declared as firefighters - on the ground and in the air - battled close to a dozen fires raging across Cape Town on Wednesday, with the inferno that threatened large parts of Simon’s Town rendering some residential areas no-go zones for most of the day.

Soldiers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), accompanied by police, had to move in when the blaze came dangerously close.

Dozens of residents and animals were evacuated in the midst of the chaos that swept over the area which, at the height of the fire on Wednesday afternoon, was clouded by dark smoke.

“It was so bad that we’ve not been able to house (evacuated) residents at local halls, they’ve had to be moved to Fish Hoek community hall,” said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security. “There are also quite a few animals and other residents that have been moved to a safe distance.”

Smith said while there had been no injuries reported, and no property loss, emergency services resources were “thinly spread because we’re managing several fires simultaneously, and that includes the fire that is still active in Helderberg.

“We are near Code Red and that does mean we need maximum co-operation from residents,” Smith said.

The runaway fire, which started in the vicinity of Kommetjie Road in Ocean View early on Wednesday and quickly spread to the Simon’s Town area, was one of 10 which firefighters struggled to contain.

In one of the more serious incidents, at least 22 people were injured after a fire raged through the Badberg Mountains and the nearby resort in The Slanghoek Valley.

ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring said: “Paramedics found a number of people crowded around. Fire services were on the scene already battling the blaze on a number of the buildings.”

Meiring said 22 people were found to have sustained mild smoke inhalation. “Ten were transported to Worcester Provincial hospital.”

Meanwhile, fire crews were still battling the Helderberg blaze high up in the mountains on Wednesday.

Smith said on Wednesday it was “too early” to blame human cause.

“We are basing that assumption on witness statements received from residents in the Helderberg area.

“We have an investigation running with SAPS and with our Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the mayor (Patricia de Lille) is about to make a R25000 reward available for information that helps us bring anyone, who may be responsible for such fires, to book.”

Cape Argus